When the Khmer Rouge captured the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh in 1975, many thought the killing would end. Instead it started a long nightmare in which three million Cambodians would lose their lives in the killing fields. The Killing Fields is an epic true story of friendship and survival produced by David Puttnam (Chariots of Fire) and directed by Roland Joffe (The Mission). Sam Waterston plays Sydney Schanberg, whose war coverage entraps him and other journalists in Cambodia's turbulent politics. Dr. Haing S. Ngor is Dith Pran, Schanberg's aide and friend who saves them from execution. But Pran is sentenced to work in the labour camps, enduring starvation and torture before attempting an escape to neighbouring Thailand. In real life Dr Ngor also endured Khmer Rouge atrocities and saw his moving, Oscar-winning portrayal of Pran (one of the film's three Academy Awards) as a way of bringing his nation's tragic ordeal to light.
Bruce Robinson (screenplay)
Sam Waterston (Sydney Schanberg); Haing S. Ngor (Dith Pran); John Malkovich (Alan 'Al' Rockoff, Photographer); Julian Sands (Jon Swain); Craig T. Nelson (Major Reeves, Military Attache); Spalding Gray (United States consul); Bill Paterson (Dr. MacEntire); Athol Fugard (Dr. Sundesval); Graham Kennedy (Dougal); Katherine Krapum Chey (Ser Moeum: Dith Pran's wife); Oliver Pierpaoli (Titony: Dith Pran's son); Edward Entero Chey (Sarun, Sydney's Driver). Please contact SFC to add other cast members and characters.
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Incredible courage in the face of such suffering
Mark Banks (United Kingdom)
I had the opportunity to visit the Killing Fields whilst on a trip through Cambodia in 2003 and it truly was a humbling experience, as too was visiting the Khmer Rouge prison 21 in Phnom Pehn. At the site of one of the killing fields has now been erected a memorial tower, which is poignantly filled with the skulls of the Khmer Rouge victims. Such evil can be made sense of in the light of Christian theology, but seeing first hand the evil depths that people can stoop to still never fails to move and horrify me. Which is why the brave stance that Dith Pran (as played by Haing S. Ngor) takes in these accounts is so courageous; knowing the risks he is taking. I won't say much more for fear of ruining the outcome, but I found the film both profound and moving. The one down side is an overbearing soundtrack but it doesn't detract from the Oscar nominated acting, directing and writing, and I recommend this film to all old enough to watch it.